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Support Planned Development

Ms. Cooper is at it again, sending out incomplete and misleading emails, trying to motivate opposition and stoke fear about anything that might result in change of any kind in Winter Park. You know, those evil, profit seeking developers want to ruin Winter Park!!! Let’s get serious. Planned Development adds value for all Winter Park residents.

The commission will reconsider on Monday, June 9 changes to the comprehensive plan that modify exiting “Planned Development” (PD) rules. Come to the meeting and speak your mind.

A PD in our context offers owners of commercially zoned property* an opportunity (not a right) to potentially increase building size (intensity) and residential units (density) while requiring minimum 25% green space (up from 15% for office and commercial zoned property). The proposed rules prohibit PD zoning in the Central Business District or the downtown core bounded by Fairbanks, Interlachen, Webster, and Pennsylvania avenues.

Commercially zoned properties today are ENTITLED to buildings whose square footage (Floor Area Ratio – FAR) equals 45-60% of land area for office/commercial use and up to 200% for residential use. This means that properties with this zoning today have a legal right to redevelop within their FAR limit, while meeting other zoning rules such as parking, and subject to the project being deemed compatible with the surrounding area.

The proposed Planned Development PD rules create an opportunity for owners of commercially zoned properties to PROPOSE developments that have a higher intensity and density than what they may be currently ENTITLED to. The proposed rules allow for FAR up to 130% in three story height map areas (such as Orange Avenue) and up to 200% in four story areas (such as 17/92), and to have up to Winter Park’s maximum residential density of 25 units per acre. The PD rules do not create an ENTITLEMENT, but rather an opportunity for a property owner to justify increased density and intensity and to increase green space. Unlike other zoning, the city has no legal or implied obligation to approve a PD project that meets the proposed PD rules.

How big can a PD project be?

In essence, the proposed PD rules are the same as our existing high density residential zoning for townhouses, condos, and apartments while adding the opportunity for mixed use projects.

The four story apartment project under construction at the corner of Denning and Canton is on 4.36 acres of a total 9.53 acres owned by the company that owns Winter Park Village.  This project was approved based on existing high density residential zoning criteria in the existing Comprehensive Plan. This project has 182% FAR including the floor area of the parking garage, 54% lot coverage and 32% green space, per code. The parking garage is three stories (four levels). The residential density as measured on the owner’s 9.53 acre total parcel is less than 25 units per acre (the city controls future residential density on the approximately 5 acres to the West of the apartment project).

The city has no means under existing rules to allow the owner to consider a mixed use project as current rules do not allow for additional parking required for office, retail, and restaurant use. Residential requires only up to 2.5 spaces per unit while office and retail require one space per 250 sq ft, and restaurants can require one space per 50 sq ft. If the proposed PD rules were in effect the owner would have been able to PROPOSE one additional level on the parking garage (which would still be lower than the four story buildings), reduce the number of apartments from 204 to about 150, and have about 50,000 square feet of office/commercial on the ground floor (or some other mixed use combination). As it is, we get a conventional apartment complex with the highest residential density.

Those concerned about the scale of this four story apartment project should understand that, as a practical matter, there are very few locations along our commercial corridors where this much land can be aggregated. The most obvious future locations for mixed use projects of this scale are along the south side of Fairbanks West of 17/92, and along Lee Road. Orange Avenue is limited to three stories and most other two lane roads do not have sufficient lot depth to support projects of the scale seen in the Denning apartment project.

Why would we want mixed use Planned Development?

The purpose of PD redevelopment in our commercial corridors is to add tax dollars to support services and amenities for us, Winter Park residents, while creating high value more desirable mixed use areas over time, replacing the relatively low value and less desirable muffler shops, massage parlors, used car dealers, repair shops, and strip centers we see along much of these commercial corridors today. Winter Park Village is one form of mixed use development with a combination of retail, office, restaurant, entertainment, and residential (bet you didn’t know there are 64 apartments in Winter Park Village). The existing Sun Trust center and parking garage across from city hall is another example of a mixed use development. The intent of the proposed PD changes is to encourage this type of value transformation over time.

In summary, the PD changes are proposed to create the opportunity for property owners to add value for Winter Park. PD is NOT an ENTITLEMENT. PD is only an invitation to negotiate a satisfactory mixed use value proposition for the city as an alternative to conventional strip center, apartment complex, office, and retail use entitlements we get by default under existing zoning.

Support the proposed PD codes. Let’s open our eyes and see what is in front of us.

Regards, Pete Weldon

* For these purposes “commercially zoned property” includes all non single family residential zoned property, to include high density residential, commercial, and office zoning.

Posted in Development, Policy.

2 Responses

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  1. Frank DeToma says

    thank you Peter for a layman’s explanation. Let’s hope reason, and not fear prevails

  2. Pitt Warner says

    I am in support to allow developers the opportunity to be creative with commercial redevelopment. We need office buildings and retail development not more apartments. I am optimistic the state will approve this change. Traditional office space and retailing are changing. Allowing flexibility to apply for changes in a PD gives WP the opportunity to hear the best proposals from commercial developers. We don’t have to approve them, but let’s hear them out. Winter Park can’t rely on new shopping centers to diversify our tax base. We’ve known for years we are too dependent on residential taxpayers. Let’s have a discussion with all creative developers. Who knows, we may all like it!

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